By Hedwig Kröner, Brecht Decaluwé, Jean-François Quénet & Anthony Tan in Pla-de-Beret
Levi Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner, 2nd)
"Well, it was great, but I'm so ... I wanted to go to the last turn first, but I misjudged it a little bit. Menchov's got a pretty good kick. I don't wanted that.
"Yesterday, I was a little bit low on fuel. So I made sure I ate a lot today, and I felt great.
"[Coming back like this today] means a lot because I've had to fight a setback last week and when that happens, it's hard mentally to come back. You doubt yourself a little bit... I really wanted to win today, and it just didn't happen. I came so close.
"Floyd and Cadel and Menchov were doing a lot of work and they, of course, had a lot to gain. As I'm quite a ways down [on GC], I wanted to go for the stage. I wanted to put everything in an attack to win - I really thought I was going to win, but I just couldn't get through that last turn first. I knew it was going to be tight and to come so close, it just hurts."
Cadel Evans (Davitamon, 4th at 0'17)
Cadel Evans finished fourth in today's stage but in the end he had to let go of Menchov, Leipheimer and Landis. Evans appeared to be strong enough to follow the leaders, but lost 17 seconds at the line. "I really wanted to follow Leipheimer and Landis but I was just unable to follow in the end. Landis did a lot of work, so I think he was the strongest. It was a pretty good day for me as we were gaining a lot of time on the other contenders."
Andreas Klöden (T-Mobile, 9th at 1'31)
Your team attacked at the penultimate climb. What was that about? "We wanted to reduce the group, and succeeded. Unfortunately, at the end of the last climb, I cramped, so I couldn't keep up," he said. "Maybe we attacked a little too soon; at the end there was only Mike and me left. Then, unfortunately, I cramped, so that wasn't so good."
What was your impression of the other favourites? "The ones in front of me were stronger."
How do you feel now? "Exhausted."
Michael Rogers (T-Mobile, 12th at 3'06)
"It was so hot and hard today! I did some good work for my teammate, so I'm happy with my ride. Also because we could defend our chances for the GC quite well.
"On the second last climb, we did a pretty hard attack and to tell the truth I never recovered from it. My lights went out in the last ten kilometres."
It looked like Andreas Klöden couldn't quite match it with the other favourites today, so maybe Rogers could be in contention to become the new team leader. "One day you're good, one day you go bad. Every day, somebody else might have a bad day. But certainly it's not over yet as it's still a long way to Paris. It was a hard day!"
Cyril Dessel (AG2R-Prevoyance, 18th at 4'45, 2nd on GC)
"I gave it everything I had. It's a big disappointment but I don't have any regrets, as I couldn't have done any better. I really dug the last remaining energy out of my body, and unfortunately I wasn't rewarded as I lost the yellow and also the mountains jersey. It's a real pity, especially for my teammates, who supported me all the way."
Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Fondital, 33rd at 10'03)
"At some stage, I thought I could win today. Unfortunately, it wasn't the case.
"I was struggling to stay on the wheels; that's why I tried to go away when I came back in the group, but I didn't manage to stay away. I climbed the last hill at my speed, without forcing; I will try again another time.
"Here, the level of the athletes is very high; I'm happy to be at the Tour de France. I have learned new things that I didn't know before. I've realised how hard the Pyrenées are, not because of the gradient, but because of the road conditions.
"It's been a nice day of sport, and I'm happy to take the Tour de France day by day."
Paolo Savoldelli (Discovery Channel, 50th at 23'04)
"For sure, today it's a defeat, but it's not a surprise. I didn't come here for riding GC, I knew since the start of the Tour that it was impossible to ride both the Giro and Tour for GC.
"If I hadn't won the Giro last year, I could have been Discovery Channel's captain for the Tour, but I was the defending champion at the Giro, so I had to do it [again].
"I came here for a stage win; I'll still hope to make it. I was feeling good today. In our team, there wasn't any leader of the level of Lance Armstrong; it's impossible to find another one like him. These days, we are paying for the tension [because we don't know who to watch]."
Thomas Voeckler (Bouygues Telecom, 78th at 33'47)
"Unfortunately, I am not Richard Virenque.
"I didn't manage to bridge the gap between the two guys away. If I had chosen to suck wheels all day, I wouldn't have lost 33 minutes today, but I'm happy with what I did. It was a nice feeling to ride aggressively, in the front, in the Pyrenées again, like two years ago."
Gert Steegmans (Davitamon, 160th at 44'20)
"I'm completely f***ed up. Even the speed of the bus was almost too fast for me."
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